Books: The Lady & the Hatchet

VESSEL OF WRATH by Robert Lewis Taylor. 373 pages. New American Library. $6.95.

In the 55 years since the death of Carry Nation, numerous biographers have sifted the implausible legend that was her life. All of them, by necessity, consulted the same primary source: The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation, her autobiography, revised seven times during the author's lifetime until the bridge between fact and fancy simply collapsed. Carry's lively imagination was impatient with the truth—which was crowded out of the book anyway by endless non-sequitur quotations from her favorite authors, Shakespeare and God.

Like Mrs. Nation herself,...

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